United States Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater is hoping that more Jamaican women will take a greater role in representational politics as the nation continues its shared drive with South Africa to provide a better life for all.
Bridgewater used her previous experience as consul general in South Africa to point out that the governments of the 'Rainbow Nation' and Jamaica had similar philosophies.
"I think that successful models in both countries could perhaps be applied and adapted appropriately," she said. She noted the large female populations in both countries and that these women are economically active and socially productive, but not always able to reach their potential.
Noting Jamaica's strides toward empowering women, Bridgewater noted that both the island's prime minister and chief justice are women.
"I am certain that their examples will encourage more Jamaican women to seek political office," she said.
In the last general election, 19 women ran for seats in Parliament, eight of them winning. Jamaica's political history has seen women succeeding in politics. Rose Leon and Mavis Gilmour made their mark in politics in the 1950s and '60s; Syringa Marshall-Burnett and Violet Neilson are former presidents of the Senate. Neilson was also appointed speaker of the House of Representatives. In the last Jamaica Labour Party administration, Marissa Dalrymple-Philibert served in the post.
At the same time, included in South Africa's charter is a mandate for full and equal participation of women in representational politics, and South African High Commissioner Mathu Joyini said between 35 and 40 per cent of the legislature was female.
"We need to duplicate that in Jamaica," Joyini said.
In celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day, Bridgewater said members of the US Embassy's Marine Security Guard Detachment would deliver diapers and paper products to the Glenhope Place of Safety and Glenhope Nursery in west Kingston today. The children will also receive a meal prepared by the ambassador's chef, George Matthews. The United States Peace Corps in Jamaica will also sponsor 'Visit a Volunteer Day'. The volunteers and embassy staff will work in the areas of literacy, numeracy, youth development and environmental/agricultural projects.
The Kingston Employee Association (KEA) will hold a fund-raising and toy drive at the embassy to benefit the Bustamante Children's Hospital. On July 28, the KEA and Kingston Foreign Service Nationals Association will visit the hospital to deliver the toys, books and funds collected.